Gustav Ludwig Hertz

Gustav Ludwig Hertz (22 July 1887 – 30 October 1975) was a German experimental physicist and Nobel Prize winner for his work on inelastic electron collisions in gases, and a nephew of Heinrich Rudolf Hertz.

Gustav Ludwig Hertz
Gustav Hertz
Hertz in 1925
Born22 July 1887
Died30 October 1975 (aged 88)
Alma materHumboldt University of Berlin
Known forFranck–Hertz experiment
AwardsNobel Prize in Physics (1925)
Max Planck Medal (1951)
Scientific career
InstitutionsHalle University
Technical University of Berlin
Doctoral advisorHeinrich Rubens
Max Planck
Doctoral studentsHeinz Pose
Father of Carl Hellmuth Hertz, co-inventor of echocardiography[1]
Grandfather of Hans Hertz, inventor of the metal-jet-anode microfocus X-ray tube[2]


Hertz was born in Hamburg, the son of Auguste (née Arning) and a lawyer, Gustav Theodor Hertz (1858–1904),[3] Heinrich Rudolf Hertz' brother. He attended the Gelehrtenschule des Johanneums before studying at the Georg-August University of Göttingen (1906–1907), the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich (1907–1908), and the Humboldt University of Berlin (1908–1911). He received his doctorate in 1911 under Heinrich Leopold Rubens.[4][5]

From 1911 to 1914, Hertz was an assistant to Rubens at the University of Berlin. It was during this time that Hertz and James Franck performed experiments on inelastic electron collisions in gases,[6] known as the Franck–Hertz experiments, and for which they received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1925.[7]

During World War I, Hertz served in the military from 1914. In 1915 he joined Fritz Haber's unit that would introduce poisonous chlorine gas as a weapon.[8] He was seriously wounded in 1915. In 1917, he returned to the University of Berlin as a Privatdozent. In 1920, he took a job as a research physicist at the Philips Incandescent Lamp Factory in Eindhoven, which he held until 1925.[9]


In 1925, Hertz became ordinarius professor and director of the Physics Institute of the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg. In 1928 he became ordinarius professor of experimental physics and director of the Physics Institute of the Technische Hochschule Berlin ("THB"), now Technical University of Berlin. While there, he developed an isotope separation technique via gaseous diffusion. Since Hertz was an officer during World War I, he was temporarily protected from National Socialist policies and the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service, but eventually the policies and laws became more stringent, and at the end of 1934, he was forced to resign his position at THB, as he was classified as a "second degree part-Jew" (his paternal grandfather Gustav Ferdinand Hertz (originally named David Gustav Hertz) (1827–1914) had been Jewish as a child, before his whole family had converted to Lutheranism in 1834).[10] He then took a position at Siemens, as director of Research Laboratory II. While there, he continued his work on atomic physics and ultrasound, but he eventually discontinued his work on isotope separation. He held this position until he departed for the Soviet Union in 1945.[5][9][11]

In the Soviet Union

"Pact to defect"

Hertz was concerned for his safety and, like his fellow Nobel laureate James Franck, was looking to move to the USA or any other place outside Germany. So he made a pact with three colleagues: Manfred von Ardenne, director of his private laboratory Forschungslaboratorium für Elektronenphysik, Peter Adolf Thiessen, ordinarius professor at the Humboldt University of Berlin and director of the Kaiser-Wilhelm Institut für physikalische Chemie und Elektrochemie (KWIPC) in Berlin-Dahlem, and Max Volmer, ordinarius professor and director of the Physical Chemistry Institute at the THB.[12] The pact was a pledge that whoever first made contact with the Russians would speak for the rest. The objectives of their pact were threefold: (1) Prevent plunder of their institutes, (2) Continue their work with minimal interruption, and (3) Protect themselves from prosecution for any political acts of the past.[13] Before the end of World War II, Thiessen, a member of the Nazi Party, had Communist contacts.[14]

Participation in Soviet Nuclear Project

On 27 April 1945, Thiessen arrived at von Ardenne's institute in an armored vehicle with a major of the Soviet Army, who was also a leading Soviet chemist.[15] All four of the pact members were taken to the Soviet Union. Hertz was made head of Institute G, in Agudseri (Agudzery), about 10 km southeast of Sukhumi and a suburb of Gul'rips (Gulrip'shi).[15][16] Topics assigned to Gustav Hertz's Institute G included: (1) Separation of isotopes by diffusion in a flow of inert gases, for which Gustav Hertz was the leader, (2) Development of a condensation pump, for which Justus Mühlenpfordt was the leader, (3) Design and build a mass spectrometer for determining the isotopic composition of uranium, for which Werner Schütze was the leader, (4) Development of frameless (ceramic) diffusion partitions for filters, for which Reinhold Reichmann was the leader, and (5) Development of a theory of stability and control of a diffusion cascade, for which Heinz Barwich was the leader;[15][17]

Barwich had been deputy to Hertz at Siemens.[18] Other members of Institute G were Werner Hartmann and Karl-Franz Zühlke.[19] Von Ardenne was made head of Institute A, Goals of Manfred von Ardenne's Institute A included: (1) Electromagnetic separation of isotopes, for which von Ardenne was the leader, (2) Techniques for manufacturing porous barriers for isotope separation, for which Peter Adolf Thiessen was the leader, and (3) Molecular techniques for separation of uranium isotopes, for which Max Steenbeck was the leader.

In his first meeting with Lavrentij Beria, von Ardenne was asked to participate in building the bomb, but von Ardenne quickly realized that participation would prohibit his repatriation to Germany, so he suggested isotope enrichment as an objective, which was agreed to.

Research at Sukhumi

By the end of the 1940s, nearly 300 Germans were working at the institute, and they were not the total work force. Institute A was used as the basis for the Sukhumi Physical-Technical Institute in Sinop, a suburb of Sukhumi.[15][16] Volmer went to the Scientific Research Institute No. 9 (NII-9).[20] in Moscow; he was given a design bureau to work on the production of heavy water. In Institute A, Thiessen became leader for developing techniques for manufacturing porous barriers for isotope separation.[15]

In 1949, six German scientists, including Hertz, Thiessen, and Barwich were called in for consultation at Sverdlovsk-44, which was responsible for uranium enrichment. The plant, smaller than the American Oak Ridge gaseous diffusion plant, was getting only a little over half of the expected 90% or higher enrichment.[21]

After 1950, Hertz moved to Moscow. In 1951, Hertz was awarded a Stalin Prize, second class, with Barwich.[15] In that year, James Franck and Hertz were jointly awarded the Max Planck Medal by the Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft. Hertz remained in the Soviet Union until 1955.[5]

Return to the GDR

Upon return from the Soviet Union, Hertz became ordinarius professor at the University of Leipzig. From 1955 to 1967, he was also the chairman of the Physical Society of the Deutsche Demokratische Republik (GDR); he was honorary chairman from 1967 to 1975.[7]

Personal life

Gustav Hertz was a nephew of Heinrich Rudolf Hertz and a cousin of Mathilde Carmen Hertz. In 1919, Hertz married Ellen née Dihlmann, who died in 1941. They had two sons, Carl Helmut Hertz and Johannes Heinrich Hertz; both became physicists.[9]

Scientific memberships

Hertz was a Member of the German Academy of Sciences in Berlin, Corresponding Member of the Göttingen Academy of Sciences, an Honorary Member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, a Member of the Czechoslovakian Academy of Sciences, and a Foreign Member of the USSR Academy of Sciences.[9]


  • Franck, J.; Hertz, G. (1914). "Über Zusammenstöße zwischen Elektronen und Molekülen des Quecksilberdampfes und die Ionisierungsspannung desselben". Verh. Dtsch. Phys. Ges. 16: 457–467.
  • Gustav Hertz Über das ultrarote Adsorptionsspektrum der Kohlensäure in seiner Abhängigkeit von Druck und Partialdruck. (Dissertation). (Vieweg Braunschweig, 1911)
  • Gustav Hertz (editor) Lehrbuch der Kernphysik I-III (Teubner, 1961–1966)
  • Gustav Hertz (editor) Grundlagen und Arbeitsmethoden der Kernphysik (Akademie Verlag, 1957)
  • Gustav Hertz Gustav Hertz in der Entwicklung der modernen Physik (Akademie Verlag, 1967)

See also


  1. ^ Singh, S; Goyal, A (2007). "The origin of echocardiography: a tribute to Inge Edler". Tex Heart Inst J. 34: 431–8. PMC 2170493. PMID 18172524.
  2. ^ [1] Wallenberg Foundation, "X-ray research that raises hopes", with portrait photograph of Dr. Hans Hertz and photographs of the Doctor in his laboratories
  3. ^
  4. ^ Gustav Hertz Über das ultrarote Adsorptionsspektrum der Kohlensäure in seiner Abhängigkeit von Druck und Partialdruck. (Dissertation). (Vieweg Braunschweig, 1911)
  5. ^ a b c Mehra and Rechenberg, 2001, 197.
  6. ^ Franck, J.; Hertz, G. (1914). "Über Zusammenstöße zwischen Elektronen und Molekülen des Quecksilberdampfes und die Ionisierungsspannung desselben". Verh. Dtsch. Phys. Ges. 16: 457–467.
  7. ^ a b Hentschel, 1996, Appendix F; see entry for Hertz.
  8. ^ Van der Kloot, W. (2004). "April 1918: Five Future Nobel prize-winners inaugurate weapons of mass destruction and the academic-industrial-military complex". Notes Rec. R. Soc. Lond. 58 (2): 149–160.
  9. ^ a b c d Hertz – Nobel Biography.
  10. ^ Wolff, Stefan L. (4 January 2008). "Juden wider Willen – Wie es den Nachkommen des Physikers Heinrich Hertz im NS-Wissenschaftsbetrieb erging". Jüdische Allgemeine.
  11. ^ Hentschel, 1996, 23 and Appendix F – see entry for Hertz.
  12. ^ Archived 25 March 2008 at the Wayback MachineZur Ehrung von Manfred von Ardenne.
  13. ^ Heinemann-Grüder, 2002, 44.
  14. ^ Hentschel, 1996, Appendix F; see the entry for Thiessen.
  15. ^ a b c d e f Oleynikov, 2000, pp 5, 10–13, 18, 21
  16. ^ a b Naimark, 1995, 213.
  17. ^ Kruglov, 2002, 131.
  18. ^ Naimark, 1995, 209.
  19. ^ Maddrell, 2006, 179–180.
  20. ^ Today, NII-9 is the Bochvar All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of Inorganic Materials, Bochvar VNIINM. See Oleynikov, 2000, 4.
  21. ^ Holloway, 1994, 191–192.

Further reading

  • Albrecht, Ulrich, Andreas Heinemann-Grüder, and Arend Wellmann Die Spezialisten: Deutsche Naturwissenschaftler und Techniker in der Sowjetunion nach 1945 (Dietz, 1992, 2001) ISBN 3-320-01788-8
  • Barwich, Heinz and Elfi Barwich Das rote Atom (Fischer-TB.-Vlg., 1984)
  • Beneke, Klaus Die Kolloidwissenschaftler Peter Adolf Thiessen, Gerhart Jander, Robert Havemann, Hans Witzmann und ihre Zeit (Knof, 2000)
  • Heinemann-Grüder, Andreas Die sowjetische Atombombe (Westfaelisches Dampfboot, 1992)
  • Heinemann-Grüder, Andreas Keinerlei Untergang: German Armaments Engineers during the Second World War and in the Service of the Victorious Powers in Monika Renneberg and Mark Walker (editors) Science, Technology and National Socialism 30–50 (Cambridge, 2002 paperback edition) ISBN 0-521-52860-7
  • Hentschel, Klaus (editor) and Ann M. Hentschel (editorial assistant and translator) Physics and National Socialism: An Anthology of Primary Sources (Birkhäuser, 1996) ISBN 0-8176-5312-0
  • Holloway, David Stalin and the Bomb: The Soviet Union and Atomic Energy 1939–1956 (Yale, 1994) ISBN 0-300-06056-4
  • Kruglov, Arkadii The History of the Soviet Atomic Industry (Taylor and Francis, 2002)
  • Maddrell, Paul "Spying on Science: Western Intelligence in Divided Germany 1945–1961" (Oxford, 2006) ISBN 0-19-926750-2
  • Mehra, Jagdish, and Helmut Rechenberg The Historical Development of Quantum Theory. Volume 1 Part 1 The Quantum Theory of Planck, Einstein, Bohr and Sommerfeld 1900–1925: Its Foundation and the Rise of Its Difficulties. (Springer, 2001) ISBN 0-387-95174-1
  • Naimark, Norman M. The Russians in Germany: A History of the Soviet Zone of Occupation, 1945–1949 (Belknap, 1995)
  • Oleynikov, Pavel V. 2000. German Scientists in the Soviet Atomic Project. The Nonproliferation Review Volume 7, Number 2, 1 – 30 The author has been a group leader at the Institute of Technical Physics of the Russian Federal Nuclear Center in Snezhinsk (Chelyabinsk-70).

External links

  • Hertz – Nobel Biography.
  • SIPT – Sukhumi Institute of Physics and Technology, on the website are published the photographs of the German nuclear physicists who had been working for the Soviet nuclear program


was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar and a common year starting on Thursday of the Julian calendar, the 1887th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 887th year of the 2nd millennium, the 87th year of the 19th century, and the 8th year of the 1880s decade. As of the start of 1887, the Gregorian calendar was

12 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.

1887 in Germany

Events in the year 1887 in Germany.

1925 in science

The year 1925 in science and technology involved some significant events, listed below.

1975 in Germany

Events in the year 1975 in Germany.

Carl Hellmuth Hertz

Carl Hellmuth Hertz (also written Carl Helmut Hertz, October 15, 1920 – April 29, 1990) was a German physicist known primarily for being involved in the development of inkjet technology and ultrasound technology. He was the son of Gustav Ludwig Hertz and great nephew of Heinrich Hertz.

Gelehrtenschule des Johanneums

The Gelehrtenschule des Johanneums (translation: Academic School of the Johanneum, short: Johanneum) is a Gymnasium (or Grammar School ) in Hamburg, Germany. It is Hamburg's oldest school and was founded in 1529 by Johannes Bugenhagen. The school´s focus is on the teaching of Latin and ancient Greek. It is proud of having educated some of Germany's political leaders as well as some of Germany's notable scientists. The school is operated and financed by the city of Hamburg.

Gustav (name)

Gustav, also spelled Gustaf (, Swedish: [²ɡɵsːtav]), is a male given name of likely Old Swedish origin, used mainly in Scandinavian countries, German-speaking countries, and the Low Countries, possibly meaning "staff of the Geats or Goths or gods", possibly derived from the Old Norse elements Gautr ("Geats"), Gutar/Gotar ("Goths") or goð ōs ("gods"), and stafr ("staff"). Another etymology speculates that the name may be of Medieval Slavic origin, from the name Gostislav, a compound word for "glorious guest", from the Medieval Slavic words gosti ("guest") and slava ("glory") and was adopted by migrating groups north and west into Germany and Scandinavia. This name has been borne by eight Kings of Sweden, including the 16th-century Gustav Vasa and the current king, Carl XVI Gustaf. It is a common name for Swedish monarchs since the reign of Gustav Vasa.

The name has entered other languages as well. In French it is Gustave; in Italian, Portuguese and Spanish it is Gustavo. The Latinised form is Gustavus. A side form of the name in Swedish is Gösta. The name in Finnish is Kustaa, while in Icelandic it is written Gústav or Gústaf.

Hertz (surname)

Hertz is a surname. Notable people with the surname include:

Alfred Hertz (1872–1942), German musician

Arne Hertz (born 1939), Swedish racer

Carl Hertz (1859–1924), American performer

Carl Hellmuth Hertz (aka Carl Helmut Hertz) (1920–1990), German-born medical researcher

Fanny Hertz, German-born British educationalist and feminist

Gustav Ludwig Hertz (1887–1975), German physicist

Heinrich Rudolf Hertz (1857–1894), German physicist. The scientific unit of frequency—cycles per second—was named the "hertz" in his honor.

Henrik Hertz (1797–1870), Danish writer

Henry L. Hertz (1847-1926), American politician

John Hertz (fan) (born mid-20th century), American writer & activist

John D. Hertz (1879–1961), American entrepreneur

Joseph Hertz (1872–1946), Hungary-born religious leader and Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom

Judah Hertz, American real estate investor

Naftali Hertz (fl. 1648), German religious leader a.k.a. Rabbi Naftali Hertz Ben Ya’acov Elchanon

Noreena Hertz (born 1967), British economist

Robert Hertz (1881–1915), French sociologist

Rosanna Hertz, American sociologist

Saul Hertz (1905–1950), American physician

Wilhelm Hertz (1835–1902), German writerFictional characters:

Suzanne Hertz, in Code Lyoko television series

Index of physics articles (G)

The index of physics articles is split into multiple pages due to its size.

To navigate by individual letter use the table of contents below.

July 22

July 22 is the 203rd day of the year (204th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. 162 days remain until the end of the year.

List of Leipzig University people

The following is a list of notable alumni and faculty of the University of Leipzig.

List of Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg people

A list of Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg people

Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg

The Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg (German: Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg), also referred to as MLU, is a public, research-oriented university in the cities of Halle and Wittenberg in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. MLU offers German and international (English) courses leading to academic degrees such as BA, BSc, MA, MSc, doctoral degrees and Habilitation.

The university was created in 1817 through the merger of the University of Wittenberg (founded in 1502) and the University of Halle (founded in 1691). The university is named after the Protestant reformer Martin Luther, who was a professor in Wittenberg. Today, the university itself is located in Halle, while the Leucorea Foundation in Wittenberg serves as MLU's convention centre (and hotel) for seminars as well as for academic and political conferences. Both Halle and Wittenberg are about one hour from Berlin via the Berlin–Halle railway, which offers Intercity-Express (ICE) trains.

Mathilde Carmen Hertz

Mathilde Carmen Hertz (14 January 1891 – 20 November 1975) was a biologist, and was one of the first influential women scientists in the field of biology and a pioneer in the field of comparative psychology. Working in Germany, her career started to unravel in 1933 due to her Jewish ancestry. She was the younger daughter of the famous physicist Heinrich Rudolf Hertz.

October 30

October 30 is the 303rd day of the year (304th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. 62 days remain until the end of the year.

Oppenheim family

The Oppenheim Family is a German-Jewish banking family, which has been a prominent family in banking and finance in the European markets since at least the 18th century. According to Forbes magazine's Family Dynasties, the Oppenheim Family divides control of their multibillion-dollar fortune among 46 family members.

Salomon Oppenheim

Salomon Oppenheim, Jr. (19 June 1772 – 8 November 1828) was a German Jewish banker, and the founder of the Sal. Oppenheim private bank.

He was born in Bonn, the scion of an illustrious family of "Court Jews" (German: Hofjuden) who had served as advisers and moneylenders to the Prince-Archbishops of Cologne in the Rhineland area for several generations. In 1789, at the age of 17, Oppenheim Jr. set up a small commissions and exchange house in Bonn, then the residence of Prince-Archbishop Maximilian Francis of Austria.

Nine years later, after French troops had occupied the left banks of the Rhine, Oppenheim Jr. moved to the city of Cologne. He was one of the first Jews who settled in Cologne since the expulsion of the Jewish community in 1424. Oppenheim became banker and tax collector by order of the French occupying power. After the establishment of the Province of Jülich-Cleves-Berg in 1815, he took service with the Prussian state.

Oppenheim Jr. and his wife Therese (Stein, born Deigen Levi) had 12 children. After Salomon's death, two of his sons, Simon and Abraham, took over management of the bank. Another son, Dagobert co-published the Rheinische Zeitung and was a railway industrialist. Salomon Jr.'s and Therese's daughter Bertha "Betty" Hertz née Oppenheim married Heinrich David Hertz (born as Hertz Hertz)—their son Gustav Ferdinand Hertz (born as David Gustav Hertz) with his wife Anna Elisabeth née Pfefferkorn later became parents of Heinrich Rudolf Hertz and Gustav Theodor Hertz, who in turn later became the father of Gustav Ludwig Hertz.

The main branches of the family converted to Protestantism (Betty Oppenheim and Heinrich David Hertz, and Simon Oppenheim's son Eduard) and Catholicism (Abraham's son Albert) in the late 19th century.

The company he founded, Sal. Oppenheim, is now a subsidiary of Deutsche Bank. Participation of the Oppenheim family effectively ended in 2005 with the death of Alfred Freiherr von Oppenheim. It moved its headquarters to Luxembourg in 2007 and was acquired by Deutsche Bank in 2009/10.

Technical University of Berlin

The Technical University of Berlin (official name German: Technische Universität Berlin, known as TU Berlin, which has no official English translation) is a research university located in Berlin, Germany. It was founded in 1879 and became one of the most prestigious education institutions in Europe.

The university is known for its highly ranked engineering programmes, especially in computer science, mechanical engineering, economics and management. The university alumni and professor list include US National Academies members, two National Medal of Science laureates and ten Nobel Prize winners.The TU Berlin is a member of TU9, an incorporated society of the largest and most notable German institutes of technology and of the Top Industrial Managers for Europe network, which allows for student exchanges between leading engineering schools. It belongs to the Conference of European Schools for Advanced Engineering Education and Research. The TU Berlin is home of two innovation centers designated by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology.

The university is notable for having been the first to offer the now very popular course Wirtschaftsingenieurwesen (which the institute itself translates as Industrial Engineering and Management). The university had conceptualised the course as a response to demands by industrialists to offer a course that provides their offspring with the technical and management expertise to run a company. First offered in winter term 1926/27 it is the oldest and one of the most prestigious programmes of its kind.TU Berlin has one of the highest proportions of international students in Germany, almost 24% were enrolled in 2018.


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